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Title: The Bone Gate
Authors: Nix Winter and LunarGeography (Amy the Evitable)
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Rating: Mature adults only
Warnings: Angst, spooky occult stuff, and boys who are not what they seemed to be. Post EW
Archive: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3244342/1/,  http://www.therck.org, http://www.gundam-wing-diaries.150m.com/gw/Single_Authors/gwsingleauthors.htm, all others please ask
Disclaimer: No infringement of the copyright of Gundam Wing is intended. This story is purely for entertainment purposes.
Date: Posted 10 February 2008

Summary: After Endless Waltz, the pilots are separated by the fears of the new government. But all is not well with the G-boys. Old enemies may be pulling strings from somewhere unimaginably far behind the scenes, and old friends may not be what they seem.

*xxx*: Thoughts
[xxx]: Text on screen

Chapter 6

~*Quatre*~

The shuttle was in the middle of docking, and Quatre was about to start screaming. He wasn't certain he'd be able to stop if he did, though. Too many painful things, and his head was throbbing... Beginning with watching Duo fall, hearing the talking heads speculate on why he did it and what it meant...

Then the e-mail to Trowa, agonizing but necessary. Duo's death would hurt Trowa immensely, as the braided pilot was the only other person to nurture the fragile self that had been buried beneath the trauma and harsh necessities of Trowa's life. Quatre would do anything to ease Trowa's hurt, anything at all, and it was important to ensure Trowa knew that.

[Trowa -

I know that I took you for granted and left you alone too long. I don't deserve your forgiveness, and I won't presume to ask for it. But I do cherish you, though I doubt you can believe it, and if ever there is anything you desire that I can help you achieve, please ask. Anything. I would break every law of Allah and man to give you peace. I won't push you for anything more than you are willing to give me. I know you will need to look into Duo's death. Please let me help you. I won't impose my feelings on you. Just let me help.

All of my love,
Quatre]

After he'd hit send, he wished he that he had something in his stomach so he could properly be sick. Dry heaving was miserable.

Next, he was surprised at boarding to see his executive assistant standing there with a duffel. Convincing the man he didn't have to join Quatre had been difficult. There really wasn't a polite or refined way to say that he would be depending on the local L2 staff to handle matters, because only a native had the expertise to navigate the complex system of bribes necessary to get anything at all done. In the end, he had to give up on tact and issue an outright order.

He hadn't been able to convince Amihan and Aisha that they didn't need to join him, and orders were not an option.

Aisha, he suspected, was honestly there to support him. She seemed sincere when she said that Family did not allow Family to face this kind of tragedy alone. Aisha was quick and clever, devastatingly sarcastic, and while she had been initially wary of him, she did seem to be warming.

Amihan, though...

Immediately post launch Amihan had insisted that both she and Aisha would wear the hajib, the traditional head wrapping, while on L2. Neither habitually wore it on L4 or while traveling on Earth, but Amihan had begun talking about "the kind of people" that lived on L2 and had gotten progressively more insulting. She never crossed the line of speaking ill of the dead, but the implications about Duo, as an L2 native... Aisha had given him a thoughtful look when she'd caught him grinding his teeth, and changed the topic.

Finally, they disembarked, and Quatre insisted on going through the proper customs and immigration lines. It was clear that he could bribe his way out of all of it, and in other places, he might have taken advantage of the streamlining the Winner name could invoke. But here, he felt it was a good thing to set an example and play by the rules. Even if it meant his head would literally explode, splattering all over the cheap linoleum.

So he was sweating and rumpled, carrying most of his sisters' bags, and at the end of his rope when he walked through the sliding doors into the shuttle port lobby – and into a miracle.

Trowa. It was Trowa. Here, on L2, and waiting for him. Had he received Quatre's e-mail and forgiven him? Or had he simply known Quatre would come here, and not seen any need for talking or making plans?

His body dropped the bags and was running forward without any input at all from his head. Trowa was here. Trowa had gotten even taller in the last year! He leaped leapt for his lover, throwing himself forward and up.

A sudden, heart-seizing moment of fear – Was Trowa willing to be touched, here and now? He could be skittish in crowds. And he might be unwilling to embrace Quatre immediately after so long a parting. But Quatre's heart had outpaced his head, and he'd made his leap, and the forward momentum could not be stopped.

And Trowa caught him, as Trowa always had.

Quatre's doubts led to a moment of hesitation before he wrapped arms and legs around the man who was the axis of his soul. He reached for the kiss, desperate, eyes closed to block out anything in the world that might not be Trowa. There was only Trowa's body, taller, more muscled than before, Trowa's taste, Trowa's arm under his ass, supporting him. Quatre wished more than anything that he could impale himself on Trowa here and now, so every possible inch of skin would be touching, inside and out.


~*Duo*~

"What the hell do you have to be depressive about? What's so bad that you can't talk to your friends?" Rachel asked, leaning against the door to Duo's room. She was an older mechanic, short white hair that stood right up on end. She'd helped build the first Deathscythe and been a friend for a long time. "Why do you think you need pills, Duo-boy?"

"I don't know, Ray," Duo said, rolling a shoulder. "Man, I think I pulled a muscle in that dive. And Une ordered me to see that doctor. It wasn't my idea. She threatened my friends. What do you think? I had to do what I needed to do to protect them."

"You're cute with short hair, boy. Look, you're here now. I'm glad. What color you gonna do your hair?"

"Don't care. It hardly feels like my hair anymore. It's too light. I feel like I'm going to float away!"

"I could get you some servos to carry around?"

"Naw, thanks," Duo said, running a hand through his short hair. "I gotta get used to it. What do you think of my new name?"

"Ian? It's nice, I guess. I voted for David, but no one listens to me."

"You voted?"

"Yeah, we ran a poll. Ian's a good name, Duo."

"I guess. Maybe I'll like it when Heero says it. God, he's gonna kick my ass. I wonder why he hasn't replied to me yet."

"What'd you say to him?"

"Asked him if he was bringing cake. He did say he was coming to get me."

"Goof. He's probably not taking you seriously now. Oh, and we found him. He's been on L2 for about an hour now, counting the time we've been talking." She tossed Duo a small tracking device. "Get your hair done first or it's all for nothing. Don't be stupid out there, ok? You shouldn't go at all. I'll go get him, if you want?"

"No, I want to. And it's only gonna take me a few minutes to get my hair done. Macky is gonna do it."

"God save you then," Rachel said, smirking. "It kind of feels like you've been gone for the longest time, you know? As if even though we knew where you were, you just, well, weren't you."

"Yeah," Duo picked up the black leather jacket he'd been given and smiled, as small, vulnerable smile. "I totally understand. I've missed myself. Thanks for the hacking! Preventer tech, best there is," he
said, slightly mocking.

Ten minutes later he lay with his head back as Macky massaged his scalp. Eyes closed, goosebumps over his shoulders. He was pretty sure he hadn't known there were nerves like that on his scalp. "That feels so good. I'm gonna get you to cut my hair all the time!"

"Sure you are," she said, massaging her fingers back through his hair, "All the boys say that. What color are we doing?"

"Don't care. Just different. Something that doesn't look like me. "

"Okay, sure thing," she said.

Heero. He could just lay there and daydream about Heero. They'd never really had a chance, not even to be friends. The war just got in the way. Hell. he could move back to L1 with Heero and go to school now. Get a job doing something… anything, but something interesting. Maybe he could get Heero to rub his scalp like that, in the shower, and he could touch Heero's, and then he was really dreaming and Heero was kissing his neck, telling him he was the most beautiful person in known space.

"Okay, sleeping beauty! All done! Dry even. Ready?"

Duo yawned, rubbing his eyes, and so as she sat him up and turned him around, he only had one eye open, and it just fell out of his head, followed by his heart. He sat there, both eyes wide as saucers,
scratching the very naked back of his neck. "Holy shit."

"You said something no one would expect."

"I meant red. Or maybe blond."

"You shoulda said. It'll take a couple hours to bleach it out and start over. Your hair is going to be straw."

"Straw?" Duo shuddered, literally, a thousand dancing banshees tingling across his shoulders as he sat there and took in the blue of his new hair. "My hair looks like cotton candy."

Macky grinned, "Yup. No one will recognize you!"

"Later. I gotta go find Heero. I just have this feeling. I need to find him."


~*Trowa*~

Trowa's moments all blended together in gray and shades of black. A bright spot had been selecting a cup of tea for Quatre, knowing that Quatre would be coming off the shuttle and he'd see him. Oolong. Quatre had always liked oolong.

The closer the ETA got, the brighter the world seemed.

Quatre.
Blond angel. Blue eyes.

Trowa found himself smiling. Life had its value, it did, but such flat champagne it was without Quatre.

He brushed at his hair, wishing he were somehow something more attractive than a leftover assassin and merc, or a former clown. He imagined himself as a dignitary, ready to pick Quatre up in a very nice car. Of course, the motorcycle he'd gotten wasn't bad. With Quatre's arms around his waist, he'd be king of the world, not just some dignitary.

Then Quatre was there, coming forward with too many bags and too many wrinkles in his suit, and he was the most beautiful vision Trowa had ever seen. Without a word, Trowa was moving forward, reaching for the bags, wanting to trade for the tea, which he hoped was still Quatre's favorite.

Quatre's head was turned away, as he spoke to the women walking behind him. When he turned to face Trowa, his face transformed. Flushed cheeks replaced the pallor, and the worry lines between his brows disappeared. The bags fell flat to the ground, and he launched himself forward at Trowa with open arms.

Trowa caught Quatre, careful not to spill the tea. There was a moment of hesitation, and then Quatre was clinging to him in a full-body embrace. Quatre still loved him!

He'd been so afraid that Quatre might not want him when he finally saw him. "My love!" Trowa whispered, holding the shorter man close, lifting him off the ground as he spun slowly around. "My love, I have longed for you as the morning twilight longs for the dawn," Trowa whispered the words in Quatre's ear.

Trowa turned to seek Quatre's lips, to offer him a kiss... time seemed so fleeting, so fragile and Duo's desperate stunt made it seem like there was so little time. He didn't care who watched, who didn't approve, he had this moment with his Quatre, and he might never have another.

"Quatre! What are you doing! This is revolting, to forget yourself in a public place. You are embarrassing the family, and darkening Father's name!"

In counterpoint to the hissed fury of one of the women behind Quatre, the brilliant flashes announced the presence of paparazzi.

Trowa did not release his hold on Quatre by so much as the width of a hair. "Be silent! You who wear a hijab, who follow the path of the Prophet. Know your place. Quatre could not darken his father's name or honor by so much as you and your mouth and hateful thoughts might. He is master here. Not you. Be silent about things which you do not understand!"

Trowa had been waiting to say that for a long time. After the hints he'd gotten from his rare conversations with his love, he'd researched Quatre's religion and prepared. He had a very good idea which sister this was and exactly how much pain she'd inflicted on his love with the bludgeons of faith and familial duty. No more. He would see to it that she would not hurt him any more. He could be whoever this woman thought she wanted to see. He could be an Oz agent. He could be a missionary in Africa. He could be a demanding male follower of Islam. He could be a kind and gentle follow of Islam. He could be a shadow and steal the golden chalice away. He had the Holy Grail right here in his arms and he'd do anything to keep it.

"Quatre, want to go for a motorcycle ride?"

Quatre hadn't pulled away at his sister's voice or the flashbulbs. When Trowa lifted his head to answer, he buried his face in Trowa's neck a moment and took a deep breath.

"Things which I do not understand?" The woman's voice rose to a shriek. "Who are you to say such things! You have no authority--"

Quatre lifted his head. "He is my beloved, Amihan. You don't have to like it, but that doesn't change the facts."

The other woman spoke up. "Then he is your guest, brother?"

Quatre nodded. "Yes. Trowa is my guest and my beloved. Trowa, meet two of my sisters, Aisha and Amihan. They came to... support me."

The second woman inclined her head slightly to him when Quatre introduced her as Aisha.  "Then we owe him hospitality, as the guest of our family, Amihan. No matter what we might think of him. And this is not a place to air family disagreements!" Aisha gave Trowa an assessing glance. "Nor is it a place to air... reunions. Can you respect my family's wish not to make a spectacle, Honored Guest?"

Still holding Quatre, Trowa bowed deeply and with great flourish to Amihan and then, more politely, inclined his head to Aisha in return. "Most splendid lady, I am deeply honored to be a guest of your family and will always strive to bring honor to the Winner name. Love is the most honorable of all the emotions and Quatre is a lucky man to have such caring and courageous sisters to accompany him in his time of grief. Let us get off the streets and to some place more restful?"

The cameras loved the sweeping bow, applauding with a torrent of clicks and flashes.

Aisha frowned. "Frankly, I'd been hoping for less spectacle rather than more. No matter how noble your feelings are --" Amihan opened her mouth, and Trowa noticed that Aisha's hand, wrapped in sisterly love around Amihan's elbow, dug sharp nails into the tender skin. Amihan squeaked.

"--No matter the nobility, the marketplace -- or the shuttle port -- is hardly the place to display them. A more restful place sounds better."

He really wanted to tell Quatre's sisters it was better for the press to talk about love than uglier things like abandonment or betrayal. But if they didn't agree with him that he and Quatre's love was a worthy, beautiful thing, he knew he would never forgive them.

Quatre spoke softly to Trowa. "This feeding frenzy is odd. While I may be a high-profile individual on L4, WEI doesn't have that much presence here. Even at home, I haven't been a target of the paparazzi like this since the furor about the Winner heir piloting a Gundam died down." He sighed, and Trowa could feel a strange tremor in the limbs wrapped around his torso a moment before he unwrapped himself and stood on his own. "At least they're staying back and not shouting out questions. I know those laws don't get enforced terribly well here."

He included his sisters in his next comment. "Give me a moment to handle this, please."

Quatre turned, and looked extremely relieved to see a figure in the capped uniform of a limousine driver sporting a WEI logo on the sleeve pushing his way through the crowd. The chauffeur was accompanied by two dark-suited large men that looked like bodyguards. Quatre gestured for them to come closer.

Trowa held tight to Quatre. He wouldn't let go for a small army of Preventers. Only Quatre's command or some threat to Quatre's life might get him to let go. He wasn't sure he'd ever let go again. For all Quatre's poise, his lover looked terrible, exhausted and ill. Quatre needed to buy time to gather his composure. Trowa could help with that. With a flourish, he presented the tea -- which he had managed not to spill – to his lover. The answering smile brought color back to the shuttleport, and Quatre gratefully sipped at it for a few moments.

"Excuse me." Quatre addressed the paparazzi, in his usual firm but polite tones. "If I can have your attention for a moment? I'll have a statement for you later, but please -- it's been a long and difficult day. It's been a long time since I've been able to see the man I love. Please give us a little space. And please, don't badger my sisters. They aren't responsible for what I do."

The media swarm began to break up, encouraged by the port police.

"Ladies, forgive me, please. My heart has too long been in the shadow, waiting for this moment and it is as if I am just now able to breath. Let us find that more restful place. Quatre, I have a motorcycle. Ride with me?"

Still nestled against his side, he could feel Quatre tense, and give a long look at his sisters.

Then he felt Quatre twitch, and the arms around Trowa's shoulders shifted enough that Quatre could begin a quick massage of the knotted tendons. Quatre hissed in dismay at the tension beneath his fingers, and muttered under his breath. "No. Surely they can manage with a chauffeur and two bodyguards, even on L2. They're grown women, and I didn't ask them to come."

Then, louder: "Aisha, Amihan, I'll see you later."

Aisha maintained her grip on Amihan's arm, long nails poised above the nerve cluster. She nodded as Quatre made his announcement, and then spoke to Trowa. "Mister Barton, I am entrusting you with my brother. Do not disappoint the Winner family. I'm sure we'll all have a lot to talk about once we've all reached the suites. Right, Amihan, Mister Barton?"

"I will protect Mr. Winner with my life," Trowa said, giving a small polite bow. "When you are ready to talk, I shall be at your service, Lady."

She turned and began issuing instructions to the chauffeur, and Trowa hastened away, hand in hand with his Holy Grail. He really didn't think he was ever going to give Quatre back.


~*Heero*~

Agent Parks made an attempt to talk to him on the drive to the morgue. "Agent Maxwell... you were close to him?"

He just stared at her.

She didn't say anything else to him during the ride. Tinnitus drowned out whatever she said to the morgue attendant, and he followed them down the hall. The attendant gestured to a drawer, and then the two of them stepped back out of the room. Maybe they would wait in the hallway, though from the nervous sidelong glances, it was possible they were simply going to flee.

Heero stood in front of the wall of drawers, his posture sufficiently rigid to please even J, fists clenched.

There was screaming inside his head, screaming from some part of him that he'd kept successfully bound and gagged for years... probably ever since he'd been shot on a dock by a boy with the most remarkable braid.

He didn't know if he could do this.

There was a pulse of heat through his blood, and another, and another. The scent of antiseptic cleaners stabbed at his nose, but couldn't hide the iron tang of blood or the worse scents of feces and flesh just beginning to rot. He could hear the heavy, fear-laden breathing from out in the hallway.

He yanked open the drawer, felt the handle warping beneath the force of his grip.

Then Heero stared.

It was just a jumble of pieces, red and white and pink. It was the scent that told him it was the shattered remains of a body long before his eyes made sense of it. Beneath the scent blood was the scent of Duo, unmistakable, but somehow... somehow off.

At the top of the drawer was another evidence bag, filled with a coil of unraveling braid. Duo's hair...

Heero clutched the bag to his chest, hands shaking as he ripped the plastic open. Hair spilled over his  hands, soft and silky, and smelling of Duo, that unmistakable mix of Duo's own scent and the lingering traces of gunpowder and lavender shampoo. There was also the faintest hint of fear-laden sweat – even Duo, fearless and wild Duo,  couldn't face that plunge with calm.

This was Duo's braid. So... this ruin of a human body had to be...

The shock of impact as Heero fell to his knees jarred the cry from his throat. It was a wordless howl, loss and guilt and grief pouring from his throat, filling the morgue, so loud it felt as though it could fill the entire colony, and spill into space.

It only stopped when Heero had to gasp for breath. He wasn't aware of the trails of tears down his face, and he wasn't aware of the morgue attendant peering around the doorframe. And when the flash of the camera broke into the oblivion of his grief, something cracked inside of Heero, and he bolted, running out the door, running down the hall, running without a destination as the agonizing pulse of heat poured through his body.

And when he stopped, with no idea of where he was only knowing that he was at last alone, it did not seem strange to him that he still cradled Duo's braid to his chest in hands that now ended in viciously sharp claws.

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